A Reader Asks: My wife and I saw a Nissan commercial that shows a family going to the beach with surfboards on top of the car. Once they reach their destination, they all jump in the water and right there is a guitarist playing “Miserlou.”

We don’t get the point, if any. Who is the target audience? The younger generation? Parents? Old rockers? And why “Miserlou,” of all things?

Stuart Elliott: The commercial is for the Pathfinder Armada, an eight-passenger sport-utility vehicle sold by the Nissan North America division of Nissan Motor. It comes from the Nissan agency, the Playa del Rey, Calif., office of TBWA/Chiat/Day, which decided to feature in the commercial not just any guitarist, but the composer of “Miserlou” himself, Dick Dale.

The spot “is aimed at who we call the ‘iconic Dad,”‘ says Rob Schwartz, executive creative director of the office, “the Dad who does stuff, who takes the kids to cool places. The Dad who all the other wives in the neighborhood wish their husbands were like. The Dad all the kids want to hang out with.”

“In this commercial, the Dad is taking his family to their favorite surf spot for a perfect day of surfing,” he adds. “As you can see in the spot, it’s pretty remote, thus showcasing the Pathfinder Armada’s rugged capability.”

And “in order to make this good surfing day a great one, the iconic Dad has brought along someone special: the king of the surf guitar himself, Mr. Dick Dale,” Mr. Schwartz says. “And what’s Dick Dale’s most famous surf song? ‘Miserlou.”‘

“So in sum, the spot is about eight-passenger utility and it’s aimed at families,” he adds, “but in particular iconic Dads and those who aspire to be. It uses Dick Dale to reinforce the eight -passenger message; the voiceover copy even asks the viewer, ‘With seating for eight, who would you bring?’ And finally, the spot incorporates his famous song ‘Miserlou’ to show how if you brought along Dick Dale in your Nissan, you’d make a ’10’ surfing day into an ’11.'”

While “Miserlou” has been used on the soundtracks of many commercials since being featured in the film “Pulp Fiction” in 1994, the Armada spot marks the first advertising appearance for Mr. Dale.


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